A WOMAN suspected to be a “high-profile” member of the New People's Army (NPA) was arrested at Barangay 10 in Bacolod City Tuesday night.
Captain Eduardo Precioso, public information officer of the Philippine Army’s 303rd Infantry Brigade based in Murcia, Negros Occidental, identified the suspect as Rowena Navarro, 49.
Precioso confirmed Navarro’s arrest to SunStar Bacolod after she was brought to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) in Negros Island Region (NIR) office in Camp Alfredo Montelibano Sr. in Bacolod.
She is being closely guarded, he said in an interview inside the camp.
This is the first arrest of an alleged NPA member in Negros Island Region (NIR) following President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration Saturday that the government is terminating the peace talks with the communist rebels.
Precioso said they are still validating if Navarro is indeed an NPA member, adding that she was allegedly identified as part of the group although he couldn't determine her position in the rebel movement.
Navarro was arrested around 6:45 p.m. when she was served a warrant for murder issued by Cadiz City Regional Trial Court Judge Renato Muñez on September 11, 2011.
The operation was conducted by operatives of CIDG-NIR, Bacolod City Police Office-Intelligence Branch, and Regional Special Operations Task Group-NIR along with the Philippine Army.
Precioso said the woman identified herself as Rogina Quilop, insisting that she is not Rowena Navarro. However, Precioso said she was already arrested in 2010 for arson, and posted a bail of P150,000 in 2011.
Her records and mugshot showed that she is Rowena Navarro, he added.
Christian Tuayon, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros (Bayan-Negros), said that Navarro is not a NPA member, but an administrative officer of the Center for People's Resources and Services, a Negros-based non-government organization conducting relief missions.
He said that Navarro was targeted because her organization's campaign was linked to their group.
Tuayon added that he strongly condemns the arrest of Navarro.